Online Comic Book Store Stands Up To Olivia Munn Lawyers Over Parody Comic Book

from the parody-as-free-speech dept

Boing Boing points us to the news that Heavy Ink, an online comic book shop, is pushing back against the lawyers for geeky TV personality Olivia Munn, after those lawyers demanded Heavy Ink destroy all copies of an Olivia Munn parody comic book called the Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn One Shot #1. Of course, since Heavy Ink is just the retailer, it's not responsible for the content itself anyway, so the original letter was somewhat mistargeted, but even so, Heavy Ink makes the argument that the comic book itself is protected parody:
Nigel,

Re: your letter of 4 February 2010 regarding

http://heavyink.com/comic/13136-Celebrity-Showdown-Olivia-Munn-One-Shot-1

I write to clear up some misconceptions.

First, the item offered for sale is not "our" comic book - it is created by a third party and offered for sale through our website.

I have never heard of Olivia Munn until you brought her to my attention, but a quick web search turns up a Wikipedia article describing her thusly

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Munn
Olivia Munn (born Lisa Olivia Munn) is an American actress, model and television personality.
and her self promoting web page at

http://www.oliviamunn.com/

where she displays near topless pictures and links to a cover shot at Maxim magazine.

Given these two websites, it is clear that she is a public figure. As a public figure, the use of her likeness meets the tests for the parody copyright exception set forth in both Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. and the more recent Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin.

As such, we have no intention of taking down our webpage, destroying any inventory, or refusing to offer the comic for sale.

If you have any further comments you may reach me at this email address,

Travis Corcoran, President
Heavy Ink


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    Olivia Munn is not a geek, she just plays one on TV.

     

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    bob, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 5:51pm

    Where Is The Artist

    Because if he is in CA he just might be in violation of the likeness law that celebs got passed a while back.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 6th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

      Re: Where Is The Artist

      "Because if he is in CA he just might be in violation of the likeness law that celebs got passed a while back."

      Which is a great reason to avoid California for you're next enterprise.

      Good going, guys!

       

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Hmmm

    An interesting position for her to take, given that her own site appears to utilize fair use rather liberally in the media and links/summaries she's posting....

    *Inebriated comment #1

     

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    Robert Ring (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 6:26pm

    This is really odd. Munn is sort of an up-and-coming geek chick celebrity (maybe just over the hump of up-and-coming). I would think she would want any sort of pop culture notoriety. It seems fairly obvious that no one's opinion of her would be diminished by a simple parody.

    My guess is this is one of those situations where someone sees something, thinks, "They're talking bad about me!" and calls out the lawyers without thinking it through. And obviously the lawyers aren't going to do whatever to satisfy the client.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    there's a big difference when you profit from parady

     

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      btr1701 (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 11:12pm

      Re: Parody

      > there's a big difference when you profit from parady

      Baloney. "Saturday Night Live" has been doing it for decades. So has MAD Magazine and Hustler Magazine.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2010 @ 5:30am

        Re: Re: Parody

        But wait, parady is not protected free speech. Its some kind of Indian cuisine!

         

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        John Duncan Yoyo (profile), Feb 6th, 2010 @ 6:48am

        Re: Re: Parody

        MAD won a case on parody song lyrics. I did like the parody of legal letter sent by the comic shop. I'm gonna try to order one now just to annoy Olivia Munn.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2010 @ 6:09pm

      Re:

      Even if you had managed to spell parody correctly, you would still be 100% incorrect.

       

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    Andrew (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:37pm

    Also via BB, Geoff Gerber points out that Mann is complaining about infringement of her publicity rights, not her copyrights as Heavy Ink assert.

    "There is no absolute defense to a right of publicity claim based upon parody," and "It should also be noted that it is not clear that Celebrity Showdown would be considered a parody."

    He also wonders why she's complaining about this particular comic and not the decidedly racier issue from Sinful Comics also featuring her. :)

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 5th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    To be a real prick

    Anyone got a link to the pictures ...

    "where she displays near topless pictures and links to a cover shot at Maxim magazine."

    Maxim links please

    Also links to order "Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn One Shot #1"

    I love the Streisand effect.

     

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    Mr Big Content, Feb 6th, 2010 @ 2:34am

    Dirty Rotten Swines

    This is what happens when you take laws designed to protect the good guys, and let the bad guys take shelter under them as well. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it—lock up the lot of ’em.

     

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    Blatant Coward (profile), Feb 6th, 2010 @ 3:50am

    Kids these days.

    I just posted a very nice comment thanking Olivia for her photoshoot, and thanking her for letting us know about Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn One Shot #1. I think it fit in nicely with all the comments about people needing new keyboards and doing things to themselves.

    I now need to go bleach my PC.

     

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    AnonCow, Feb 6th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    Olivia is a stupid Munt...

     

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    mikespace, Feb 7th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    her pictures are average at best... chopping off her face would help a bit

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    well she can dish it out alright

    Shes lame for getting upset about this. Especially since she makes a very nice living showing internet "idiot" video (utilizing the content of others) and paroding others . . . truly disgusting reaction on Munns part.

     

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    another mike (profile), Feb 8th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    cunning stunts from stunning...

    Ms Munn has been a geek favorite for a while now. It's not like we haven't already seen everything she has to offer. That Slave Leia outfit at Comic-con, for example.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Brian, Mar 30th, 2010 @ 3:57am

    Who again?

     

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